The provincial SAPS has been left severely handicapped after safety and security MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe’s response to parliamentary questions posed by the DA revealed that all four helicopters have been grounded.
Three of the helicopters are being serviced, while the fourth – H125 Squirrel ZS-RPA – was involved in an accident in November 2020 and is awaiting repairs.
To make matters worse, two of the helicopters are only expected to return to active duty in July 2022, while the other two are expected to return to service in April this year.
DA shadow MEC for safety and security Bobby Stevenson said the situation was unacceptable.
“Gang violence, stock theft and murder need to be curtailed in the Eastern Cape and eyes in the sky play a key role in doing just that. However, that is currently not the case,” he said.
“These helicopters play a critical role in the deployment of of rapid response forces, the tracking of criminals, as well as acting as a deterrent.
“It would be much more efficient to deploy these helicopters to track down criminals as they try to flee the scene.”
Stevenson said the helicopters need to be brought back into operation as soon as possible and said he would be requesting the service contracts from Tikana-Gxothiwe for review.
Questions sent to the department of safety and security were unanswered by print deadline.